Starring: Cedric Yarbrough, Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Niecy Nash, Wendi McLendon- Covey
In the 90’s there were two shows that were the true beginnings of what we now call “trash” television: Jerry Springer and COPS. In a stroke a brilliance, actor/writer/all around funny guy Thomas Lennon took the format of COPS, parodied it, and eventually the show got green-lit by Comedy Central. The show ran for six glorious seasons, spawned a feature length film, and people are still talking about it today. I was more than happy to take on the monstrous box set for… research purposes. You know, to make sure that it was suitable for the masses and what not.
This series is filmed “mockumentary” style, which means that a lot of the show is done with the characters actually talking to the camera as if there is a real documentary crew behind it. The style has become so popular and mainstream, that even now, Emmy award winning, fan favorite, Modern Family, is shot “mockumentary” style. The show is also predominately unscripted. The only true scripted parts that the actors had to follow was a basic plot line.
I would give my left butt cheek to do a show like this. The cast is so funny and the episodes are so outrageous. You can feel the fun radiating through your television set. RENO 911, like most Comedy Central shows, was known for pushing the boundaries of race, sexuality, and anything else taboo. Nothing was left untouched… which was part of the brilliance of the show. The “film crew” follows around the squad of the Wahoe County Sheriff’s Department in Reno, Nevada… and damn, are they stupid. I mean, they are horribly inept, delusional, and just awful people. But that’s what makes the show so damn spectacular.
The reason to watch this show is to see what ridiculousness is going to happen next. How big will Nicey Nash’s butt be? She notoriously stuffed her butt for the show. How short will Thomas Lennon’s infamous short shorts be? And what in the world will roller skating hooker Terry Bernadino say that he is doing, instead of actually hooking on the streets? I tried to start watching the entire series, but it took me too long, because I thought, “I’ll just watch one episode on each disc and then move on to the next disc.” That wasn’t happening. I found myself in the Portlandia sketch of “Just one more!” Left to my own devices, I NEVER would have finished this review on time. Anyone who enjoys zany, outlandish, and provocative humor will love this show, and the box set.
The video is fine. Remember that the series is supposed to look like COPS, and so luckily, Comedy Central did not have to spend much money on a lot of production… and it looks that way. But again, that is the way that the show is supposed to look, and it works magically.
Good audio as well. Again, it goes along with the aesthetics of the show, but there are never any pops, nor do I have to keep adjusting the volume for music or anything else like that. Good stuff.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Decent packaging, but I have seen nicer. The series comes in a thick DVD plastic box, no sleeve, with (very appropriately) headshots of the entire cast of characters on the front cover, looking goofy as ever. There is also an extra place holder for an extra DVD in the package that is filled with a cardboard DVD. I wish that they would have put the feature film in there or just another DVD filled with stills of the cast because it looks cheap… and not in the a good way. It’s not the greatest packaging but it suffices.
The bonus features are MUCH better, though. The only reason, I believe nowadays, that you should actually purchase a box set is for the oodles of bonus features. The RENO 911 box set does not disappoint. You get loads of commentary from the cast and creators, deleted/extended scenes, and other funnies. I loved watching the commentaries and the deleted scenes to find out that the core group of actors that play the cops actually double as the offenders sometimes. which they totally can do because their faces would be blurred out anyways, since it’s a COPS parody. Brilliant. But that poor packaging makes this box set loose major points.
Overall (Not an Average)
I love this series and this box set does not fall short of its former glory. The episodes are just as hilarious as I remember them, and I love the crazy amounts of insightful and rib tickling bonus features. I would have to say that the only downside to this set is the packaging. It’s a little cheap, and I know that if I traveled with it, or kept it for any amount of time, it would deteriorate. I wish that they would have come up with something a little more slick and clever.